Hi All,

I have travelled a fair bit in Latin America, including Colombia and have been considering moving to Medellin or Cali to find an English teaching position. My ultimate dream would be to purchase a piece of land (possibly one with derelict building with a salvageable foundation) and then build my own building in order to eventually open a hostel. I have experience in construction and would spend some time volunteering with a "habitat for humanity' type of program in Colombia in order to familiarize myself building codes and practices in Colombia. Does anyone know if this is feasible (sp?)? I would likely hire a consultant of some sort to oversea the project but would like to do most of the labour myself. Any info would be appreciated. Aslo, are there any web sites out there that could give me an idea of buying land in either of cities so that i could get a better idea of price? And finally, anyone have any info about the cost of materials in Colombia or a web site that might help? Thanks.

-Budd

Posted on November 2, 2007


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Comments:

Budd i have to go to work but i will get back to this post this weekend

Posted on November 2, 2007


First of all there are very few if any building codes in costal Colombia, if there are they must pay off the inspector. Secondly you are going to get screwed over by every one and any one to hire or who is involved in the project. It seems no one does any thing for nothing in Colombia. You will pay top dollar for all of your building materials unless you speak fluent spanish and are able to bargen. If you hire a consultant expect him to take kick backs from all suppliers after he has inflated the prices. My advice is do all the work yourself, buy all the material your self and over see any work done by some one else. This advce reflects my experience in Colombia.

Posted on November 2, 2007


you have to build the first floor then leave steel rods pointing upwards for a year or two from the roof, ( terrace) then when ever you feel like it or have the money extend upwards, si o no ¿?

Posted on November 2, 2007


Quote: First of all there are very few if any building codes in costal Colombia, if there are they must pay off the inspector. Secondly you are going to get screwed over by every one and any one to hire or who is involved in the project. It seems no one does any thing for nothing in Colombia. You will pay top dollar for all of your building materials unless you speak fluent spanish and are able to bargen. If you hire a consultant expect him to take kick backs from all suppliers after he has inflated the prices. My advice is do all the work yourself, buy all the material your self and over see any work done by some one else. This advce reflects my experience in Colombia.

This is JUST a beginning of what you need to understand.

Quote: you have to build the first floor then leave steel rods pointing upwards for a year or two from the roof, ( terrace) then when ever you feel like it or have the money extend upwards, si o no ¿?

SI !!!!

Posted on November 2, 2007


(possibly one with derelict building with a salvageable foundation)

This depends but as a RULE you should NOT expect the foundation to correct. Steel is easy to steal and concrete might not have a lot of strength.

Added an interior wall and knew better not to expect much in the way of floor slab. Ha,, NO steel and a 4 meter x 20cm trench was broken out with a HAMMER in about 30 minutes.

Unless of coure you purchase a poco built structure but not many exist.

Posted on November 2, 2007


Thats a good point about using an existing foundation - if there are are few building codes you can't suppose anything. My reason for thinking about having a consultant would be mostly for things to do with code, but if there are as few codes as some suggest then I wouldn't need a consultant. As far as getting ripped off, I figure if I work in the area or with a voluntter group before I commence construction it will give me time to build a couple of relationships and to research the price of materials. Any hints on web sites for real estate in these cities, or anywhere in colombia for that matter, all I can find is properties clearly marketed to vacationers and luxury spots. Thanks.

Posted on November 2, 2007


La Pais newspaper from Cali has a large Classifieds section (available on the net) which lists numerous properties and building plots for sale in the Cali area and it's surrounds.
We purchased a smallish detached home (although it's in a Condominium) and basically rebuilt it - using local architects, builders, electricians etc. We're just south of Cali near Jamundi.
Rip offs were attempted, and NEVER accept any quotations. Haggle the prices of everything. Luckily my wife is from Cali and nothing passed her. We know a number of reliable and professional tradesmen who won't rip you off if you decide on Cali. However, land prices, whilst still cheap as chips compared to the US or Europe, are rising rapidly - as are the prices of building materials and labour. Cheaper labour is available, but as the old adage goes, pay peanuts - get monkeys.
I wondered what those metal bits sticking up through peoples unfinished roofs were!! :-)

Posted on November 2, 2007


OH please be very careful, are you going to be here to manage the project,¿?? you need to be. I can put you in contact with an english mate of mine, talk about the english cup of tea syndrome, and more.

Posted on November 2, 2007


I have to agree with boatygringo here.
I would suggest getting a Colombian to get any quotes for you otherwise your gonna get raped from the get go.
Building projects here should not be attempted by anyone with bad nerves,ulcers,stress,explosive temper etc.
Also,forget about existing foundations.Upon detailed inspection of the retaining walls in the basement of the current project it appears that somebody forgot to add any cement to the mix and the boulders were held together with sand.

Posted on November 2, 2007


Hey Math.
First you have the right idea.
So here goes my comments.
If buying a derelict building or house you can bet your ass the foundation will be made of adobe brick or non existent. Therefore do like me rip it all out and start a nice new foundation. The foundation as you know is the base of your house and everything depends on a good foundation. As for codes they do exist but in many areas of Colombia the inspections are non existent. But I understand the inspections are being started in the very big metropolitan areas like Cali and Bogotá. The building techniques are a bit different from north America. So I would suggest you find yourself a good cheap architect to do the drawings or at least the base structure and submit them to the city "calaria" (sorry spelling). then you get permission to build but you most likely wouldn't see an inspector of any kind. remember you also need to get a demo permission because some buildings may be consider historical. If the building falls down its your problem. Depending on your experience I would be watching your project night and day....like other posters have said they will steal you blind given the chance...buy and negotiate all materials and all prices.....every middleman wants his percentage.....just makes your job more expensive.....it really adds up after a few middlemen......Now as for comparing material to the US they are cheaper...but in Colombian standards the materials are expensive. the labor is much cheaper than the US but the labor quality is very poor....again back to " you have to watch your job night and day" very time you turn your back they will fuck something up....that goes for all the trades......in Colombia the trades have no idea of team work or planning or scheduling.....they don't wait for other work to be preformed in the correct order.
I emphasize be careful and watch your job

Posted on November 2, 2007


Oh yeah. You will have to go there every day as well.

Posted on November 2, 2007


Everything said prior to this is TRUE, TRUE, TRUE. If you don't have construction knowledge or someone who does,,, well,,, good luck.

I'll add,,,, MAKE SURE THINGS ARE SQUARE and LEVEL,, we're talking EVERYTHING, EVERYDAY. A bubble level, framing square and 50 meters of transparent tubing will save you lots of grief.

I started off small.

http://minmaster.com/colombia/casapollo/index.htm

Posted on November 2, 2007


too funny poco

Posted on November 2, 2007


i started off big but with the help of fugdis it all ended up massive, out of control , like 'uck ingham palace, just ask him, didnt you know the fugdis man is THE construction monster, give him a project and a bucket of sand and bricks and whhoo , lets build dudes, the skies the limit, realy , onwards and upwards

Posted on November 2, 2007


If you buy an existing house things become MUCH easier. Have you considered that?

Also, are you looking to buy in a city (bogota, medellin, ...) or in the countryside or in a small town?

Posted on November 2, 2007


poco: that's a great page btw :)

Posted on November 2, 2007


I can save you time, frustration, and money!

Stay home and just wire half of your budget to me.

Posted on November 2, 2007


bufalo...on another thread...can't remember...you mentioned being in colombiia in the 80's... where? and when? what was your take. i was in medellin.

Posted on November 2, 2007


On my last trip to Colombia I made a few stays at some fincas. Man...bamboo has GOT to be the mack daddy of construction materials. I would start from scratch and DIY if you have the talent as you state.

T

Posted on November 2, 2007


I'm doing a remodle of my house. Even with a well entrenched local family, it has been a total nightmare. And continues to be so. I have the skill to build but not the body to do so. I even brought many of my tools, fathers tools and grandfathers tools with me. Try to educate someone with my tools? Forget it. Intentional obstinate ignorance is the norm. I'm about to buy a bunch of Vicodin and finish the work myself.

When I need product I send my troupers (family) out for samples and prices. Then I only pay upon delivery and insperction (very important) of ALL material.

I'm the boss! What I want, I got. I'm from eathquake prone So. Calif. More re-bar, more joined metal, higher concrete content in mix, expansion joints, multible drainage systems (for the downpoors)....

Even being on the jobsite nearly all day, it was like being in charge of a day care center. Oh, but they sure want to be paid ant the end of the week.

I may have finally found a good craftsman of about 65 yrs or so that works alone. I'm going to give him a try for some small stuff. If good, I'll use him for my kitchen remodel, entrance redo and othe finishing touches.

Posted on November 2, 2007


brother lowell...do i emphathize with that. 19 years ago, a decision was made by my partner and i to move our furniture mfg from mexico to colombia.

i had twelve separate workshops and a little more than 60 emloyees. a marriage not made in heaven. it was 'murphy's' law, 24/7...if it can, it will. period. now, being familiar with the u.s. uniform bldg code (to those who don't know, the UBC is the building code of colombia) i can appreciate the delima any manufacturerer who learned/worked in the 'developed' world faces when working in colombia.

and tools? hah...stanley, made in colombia...not to be confused with those wonderful tools by the same parent made in the usa. and prices? LORD! i chose to use hand tools from sweden and a pair of nips or needlenose by 'bahco' cost $38.00 a pair. common. and they are designed to fly! can you believe it?

like yourself, lowell. they very soon learned that that 'stupid' rich gringo was god (sort of) it was my way or the highway, instantly. poor materials, poor assembly or carving was met with a 'pink slip', automatically. if they wanted to play in my game, they played by my rules. i wasn't a task master, always driving them beyond reason...not my style. but my designs and stipulations were the law and ANY infraction was dealt with by a death blow. zero tolerance for failure to follow specified, illustrated instructions. it took no time at all to have a work team who did what they were instructed to do and who's work was a satisfaction to me.... not to mention the ebanistas themselves.

Posted on November 2, 2007


LEGO

Posted on November 2, 2007


all i said, friend, was that the "UBC" is the code in colombia...i didn't say it was emloyed.

i'm certainly familiar with the folks on the take...throughout the country. one has to pull up their pants, put on their belt, know what they want to be done, and be on top of it every step of the way. there are numbers of very fine, trustworthy and honorable workers in any pueblo, but there's a weeding out process that one must go through to isolate them.

Posted on November 2, 2007


How about putting in a patio and doing the concrete with no slope whatsoever for drainage? That's one of the things that I missed in construction and will at sometime need to redo. The chicken shit contractor knows he screwed up and won't return to fix his damage and errors. That's cool I'll wait a year and he'll get his rewards. I heard that the painter that screwed me a little over a year was recently taken out into the country, dumped stripped. In the imortal words of Sgt Shultz of Hogans Heros "I know nothing'!

Railing guy tried to put in railing with wrong angle. WRONG! Wife just about killed him.

Electrician didn't know how to instal new type of switch. DUH! Just follow the instructions that are in SPANISH!

Ceiling fan installed wwith wobling mounting plate.

Hole for airconditioning way to high.

Oh yea, these people were real chraftsmen. NOT!

Posted on November 2, 2007


oh yea
the back of my house which is the kitchen, washing area and one small washroom
I told the tile guy I wanted all the tile in the same tile joint line all way around. I helped him do a waterline level all over just to make sure. well I ended up with 3 different levels the wash room down 1 1/2 inches and washing up area up 3/4 of an inch......I made him install tile with balanced pieces on both ends of the walls....man he was pissed off having to do that...he wanted to start full tile on one side and work out what ever on the other side.....at least I got that part properly done

Posted on November 2, 2007


Quote: I helped him do a waterline level all over just to make sure. well I ended up with 3 different levels the wash room down 1 1/2 inches and washing up area up 3/4 of an inch.

Was it impossible increase the thickness of the repello?

The kitchen floor on my last project required 8cm increased height in one corner to finish with a 1cm height at the back door and the room was not that big. Ha, the drain slope would have guaranteed a ""deep"" pool of water at the back wall near the sink. Maybe that's what they wanted,, kind of a built in mop bucket.

Had to increase the sink top height 4cm but I've become fond of repello,, kind of like duct tape only cement.

I've had the same problem laying tiles. For some reason they don't want to start in the middle. Very strange and yes, it can end up looking crappy, especially on walls when tiles meet at the corner.

Gave up on the last project because the calculated wall cuts weren't bad and the existing floor wasn't square.

My opinion is they have worked with out of square rooms for so long that they think at least one ""straight" wall tile course looks best.



It doesn't cost more to do it righ the first time,, well,, not much.

Posted on November 2, 2007


It doesn't cost more to do it righ the first time,, well,, not much.

yea i know but try telling them that...no concept

Posted on November 2, 2007


Holes for 2 lite fixtures on my back wall. One lower by about 4 inches and had a line to guide them. Fixed before wall plastered. PVC for sink. No gas trap installed. Installed kit from HomeBase. Decorative hole above outside storage door. No thought of rain entering storage room. Backed it with glass, sealed with silicone. Sometimes I wonder if some of (didn't say all) these people can even wipe their asses correctly. Maybe not. Intentional, obstinate, ignorance. I see it a lot in my wifes son of 11 yrs. I worked with him for over 4 years and gained no ground. I gave up. His loss. Now my daughter receives most of my available attention.

Posted on November 2, 2007


Quote: Sometimes I wonder if some of (didn't say all) these people can even wipe their asses correctly.

I've thought a lot about the lack of even mediocre skill.

I think vic said something like ""If they've never seen it they can't do it"".a few months ago.

Not sure the precentage, but I think a lot of U.S. children grew up with tinker toys, building blocks, erector and chemistry sets, worked on their car or motorcycle, assembled models, etc. I spent lots of time building U Control airplanes until I discovered something better.

Most Colombians don't have this luxury,, PLUS the damn culture I hear so much about (and have trouble finding) almost DICTATES that the BOSS does NOT work. The OWNER, no matter how poor, gets someone to do this crappy work. I joke NOT.



Quote: Sometimes I wonder if some of (didn't say all) these people can even wipe their asses correctly.

I've thought a lot about the lack of even mediocre skill.

I think vic said something like ""If they've never seen it they can't do it"".a few months ago.

Not sure the precentage, but I think a lot of U.S. children grew up with tinker toys, building blocks, erector and chemistry sets, worked on their car or motorcycle, assembled models, etc. I spent lots of time building U Control airplanes until I discovered something better.

Most Colombians don't have this luxury,, PLUS the damn culture I hear so much about (and have trouble finding) almost DICTATES that the BOSS does NOT work. The OWNER, no matter how poor, gets someone to do this crappy work. I joke NOT.



This being said and all fairness,, In 5 YEARS,, I've found THREE excellent construction workers that are WAY above average ie: CRAFTSMEN. They normally work the cities or fincas but their family lives in town and if I'm lucky,, they will be available for work.

I pay high wages for the area,, maybe equal to the cities and this pay for these guys,, it's worth every peso.

Posted on November 2, 2007